Wow, it has been over 2 months since the last update on the pinball machine! But that has a reason, the past months have been very busy with everything but the pinball machine: work, jobs in and around the house, etc. In short: life happened :-)


But, the past two weeks or so, I was able to spend some time on the machine again and some visible progress was made: the legs have been mounted to th

e machine, so it now stands on its own four legs. That felt like a milestone since the slightly outward facing legs really add to the overal look of the machine.

Next, the PC was mounted onto the drawer, cable gutters were added, and several of the additional PCB’s have been bolted to the drawer as well:


1) Ipac 2 FS32 – keyboard encoder: this little device connects to all the buttons and switches on the machine, sees when the switches are triggered, and sends them to the PC as keyboard presses. Those buttons have to correspond to the keys in the pinball simulator software. Besides buttons, there will be a few other switches or sensors in the machine that act as keyboard presses: when opening the coin door for example, or when entering a coin into the machine: if it is the right coin, a keypress will be sent telling the computer credits were inserted.

2) LedWiz 32-port USB light controller. This device connects to the PC via USB, receives signals from the computer and uses those signals to switch on and off one or more of its 32 output channels. As the name suggests, this controller is meant to be used for driving LED’s and it is able to drive 500 mA max. However, in this build, I am going to use 3W RGB LED’s, and a few electromotors that require a lot more juice, so that it why I will also use:

3) 2x Booster Boards. Made by VPForums community member Zebulon. These boards connect to the LedWiz outputs and use those signals to switch output ports that are capable of driving much larger loads. Each booster board contains 16 channels, so 2 are required if you want to boost all 32 channels of the LedWiz.

After all that was taken care of, I was unable to resist my urge to see if it would all work. So, I put the playfield screen in, connected it to the PC, added the backbox monitor and the DMD and fired the machine up to see if it works! It does, and though the video quality is lousy, I am sure you can understand the excitement when it all lit up! Check the video below:

Groningen Mini Maker Faire

Groningen Mini Maker Faire

For several years Make Magazine’s Maker Faire has been a growing hit in America. First in San Francisco’s Bay Area, later also on the east coast in New York. And more recently the Mini Maker Faire is becoming a phenomenon, which takes the Maker Faire outside of the US as well.

Since this site is ran by a few dutch makers, we are especially delighted to see the first one in the Netherlands! On friday october 20th, Open Lab Ebbinge and Theater De Machinefabriek will host the first annual Groningen Mini Makerfaire (in dutch here) where many makers will show their creations, teach you how to make your own projects and get in touch with fellow makers from the area. There will also be 30+ free Maker Talks and workshops for visitors to attend.

So, if you are a maker, want to be a maker, or want to see what makers are all about, go have a look in Groningen next friday, between 12:00 and 18:00.

Groningen Mini Maker Faire

Now that all the holes have been cut, slots routed and all buttons have been test-fitted, it is time for paint! The machine will get a black base color, and on top of that will come custom art-work. I am not sure yet what the artwork will be, and if I want to design it myself or have it designed by someone who knows what he’s doing. But first: painting over the past few days the cabinet, backbox and panels were sanded and primed with an MDF primer paint several times. The hardware store advised to use a special MDF primer as it would better cover the MDF than normal wood primer. I was skeptical but it seems to have worked out great.

Paint it blackOn previous projects I used normal primer which would then require 2 to 3 layers of black paint. After using the MDF primer, one layer of satin black seems to have covered the wood completely and evenly.

Unfortunately, there are a few spots that need some touching up as I was working in a small space with low lighting at night which caused some problem areas to go unnoticed until daylight the next day :-) I think I did not properly sand it down or maybe the problem-spots were not completely dust-free.

One of the spots (on top of the backbox) I tried to redo by sanding down and applying paint again, but that did not work out very nicely as you can clearly see it was touched up. So, I guess sanding the whole panel down and repainting it the way to go.

Last lesson learned: I tried painting the drawer mechanism by applying a thin layer of paint. Unfortunately, it greatly affected the way the drawer moved in and out. I figured it would before I started, but not that it would be this bad. Lesson learned, I think I’ll replace the drawer slides.

Anyway: the whole machine is now solid black. Some area’s could do with a bit of touching up here and there, but since I will be standing over the cabinet a lot to add the wiring of the electronics, I will do that once I do not need to be inside the cab anymore.



And we’re back!

October 14, 2012

We have done some maintenance on the site which meant the site was not viewable. Sorry about that, but we are back now. All is in place, backup was done and now we are ready to move on!

The pinball machine has been painted and is almost ready to start wiring, but I plan to do a separate post on that soon!

A real pinball machine contains many devices that make noises; bells, vibration motors, knockers, siren, etc. Like those machines, this virtual pinball project will also contain some of these feedback methods (as mentioned in this post), to make it all seem like the player is playing a real table, as much as possible. However, when it’s nighttime, the other occupants of the house may not like having to hear the fun fair sounds when they’re trying to get some sleep. So, a “night mode” switch will be added. This switch will be a manual way to switch off the power supply to all the extra’s.

Lumberg KLB PSS 3

Lumberg KLB PSS 3, 6.35mm stereo jack plug with 2 built-in switches that activate if a plug is plugged in.

But switching all the noisemakers off seriously reduces the insensity during play. So, instead playing the sounds over headphones would be an option; still switching off the bells & whistles, but everything that is normally played over the speakers can then be heard on headphones.

As it turns out, some headphone plug components contain one or more switches that are activated when a plug is put in. So, I plan to hookup such a switch to an interrupt on a microcontroller, possibly an Arduino, in order to program the behavior once a headphone is plugged in. I am going to use a Lumberg KLB PSS 3 for that.

But first: drilling the holes for the plug. On the front is a small hole to put the plug through, on the backside is a larger hole to house the rest of the plug with the built in switches. I took some pictures in the process, you can check them below as usual.

Project Pinball: Big Fan!

September 28, 2012

Cabinet FansLet’s see: we’re putting a large HD LED tv, a 27″ monitor, a whole bunch of electronics, power supplies and a beefy, possibly overclocked PC in a wooden box. That is probably going to create some heat and to get rid of that heat, we need ventilation.

In this build, the playfield cabinet gets 2 fans of 20cm diameter each, which will suck out hot air from the back of the cabinet, which gets rid of the heat from the large playfield screen and the PC and electronics.

The backbox gets 1 fan, also 20cm and some passive ventilation holes along the top.

To drill the ventilation holes, I first decided the center point of each fan, drilled a 3mm hole and used a circle cutter attachment for the dremel (nr 678) with a router bit to cut the fans. To get smooth edges, drill one side half the depth of the material, then turn around the panel and cut the other half. In this case I drilled the hole on one slightly smaller than on the other side, this leaves a bit of an edge in which the fan sits flush.

Project Pinball: Insert Credit!

September 25, 2012
Coindoor added!

Coindoor added to the cabinet!

Work has taken a lot of the spare time lately, so I have been unable to do as much on the pinball project as I would have liked. However, I did receive the coindoor from Gremlin Solutions. The website states the coin mechanism only accepts 10p coins, however there are a few screws you can twist to change the accepted size and weight. And with a little bit of tweaking I was able to have the coin mechanism accept €0,50 coins. I am thinking about hooking up an additional microswitch to the coin reject button. It is the slot where you put the coin in, you can press it to have your inserted coin returned if it is not accepted as valid credit by the mechanism. With an additional microswitch, pressing the coin-reject button will result in a simulated keypress, simulating inserting credits.

So with that, I had to bring out the spade bits again. I measured the radius of the corners of the cast-iron coin door. It was 25mm, so after deciding where to put the coindoor, 4 holes were drilled. Each 25mm in diameter, and with a saw I cut out the rest.

With a little bit of sanding the coin door fit nicely and it looks awesome!

DIY Dubstep

September 22, 2012

Dubstep is all the rage these days, and I personally quite like the large, heavy, screaming amounts of noise. So, I quite liked seeing some dubstep video’s on the Make Magazine blog tonight. Apart from the video above, make sure you also check this video below of a device that uses a laser to scan everyday objects and turn them into sounds to use in a dubstep track:

Warning Dubstep!

Warning Dubstep!

Stressed is Desserts spelled backwards

Stressed is Desserts spelled backwards

[Update] Let’s dedicate this post and picture to Merthe Weusthuis, the girl how forgot to tag her “Sweet Sixteen” party as private, so now there are a few thousand people crashing the village of Haren in Holland. There are fireworks, alcohol, police, lots of media (even CNN), and the whole thing is even livestreamed using a UAV drone (no stream online anymore).

This fake queen of Holland tweet summarizes pretty the sentiment a lot of people in Holland seem to have right now:

Translated: What a situation. “What is bad for the country is good for the papers”.


Adam Savage (@donttrythis) is co-host of the popular Mythbusters show. And a large part of that show consists of the Mythbusters making all kinds of devices and contraptions in order to test the myths. So it probably comes as no surprise that Adam Savage considers himself to be a maker, and not just on camera, also in his spare time.

This video was recorded at the 2012 Bay Area Maker Faire  and shows Adam Savage exploring and explaining why we make. It is an inspiring talk which rang true on many levels with me. I think he is able to put in words the feeling and emotion that many makers have when they make something. And maybe those are similar reasons why travellers have to travel, why you really love that hobby you do.

What do you think, can you identify with this?